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Self-quarantine. Social distancing. Community spread. These formerly obscure terms are now everyday words in the time of COVID-19.

As we learn to work, live, connect and shop virtually and from a distance, we’re forming new habits and behaviors that are likely to remain after the crisis passes.

Businesses who in the past viewed digital commerce as a secondary channel now need to reorient every aspect of their business toward a digital commerce mindset.

As part of our COVID-19 thought leadership series, Managing the human and business impact of coronavirus, our report, Channel shift: Prioritizing digital commerce offers a guide as businesses rapidly adjust to this new normal, strengthening digital channels and capabilities at appropriate scale and stability.

Taking immediate action

Business systems must be prepared to withstand the increased traffic, and actions must be implemented quickly and at scale.  

Below are immediate actions organizations can take:

  • Within 24 hours: Rapid customer and channel immersion. Assess current issues, shifting consumer patterns, value chain breakage and pain points. Identify critical individuals to give missing details on the major issues across the value chain.
  • Within 72 hours: Product strategy and prioritization. Triage and group the issues, pain points and opportunities into a prioritized product backlog. Conduct customer research to identify new patterns and establish a marketplace strategy to align with shifts in demand. Complete a supply chain audit and identify technology ecosystem partnerships.
  • Within 5 days: Product teams deployed. Establish an initial pilot plan at the conclusion of the week-one sprint. Deploy an MVP “hub” with minimum required features to test strain on systems, and identify marketing needs to drive awareness and demand.
  • Within 14 days: Optimization. Analyze data from MVP based on initial consumer response and strain on existing supply chain or systems. Outline and optimize dependencies. Prepare for full launch at the conclusion of Sprint 2.
  • Next: Scale and sprint. Scale the launch of the successful pilot product and channels. Begin the next sprint based on the prioritized backlog.

What to do Now and Next

The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly accelerating the digital commerce pivot globally.

There are three key elements businesses need to address as they revisit and even reimagine their overall strategy: reassuring customers and employees, stabilizing digital operations and reconfiguring products, services and markets.

1. Reassure customers and employees
People are concerned about who to buy from, if they’re paying a fair price and even if they’ll be able to find the essentials they need. As a result, they are gravitating toward companies that are truthful, transparent and driven by a clear purpose.

Companies who can demonstrate these attributes will deliver a differentiated level of customer service and make themselves more relevant and connected to their customers—old and new—on an ongoing basis.

2. Stabilize digital channels and infrastructure
With the closure of restaurants, bars and hotels and grounding of airlines, the grocery sector is meeting much of the demand—and online commerce is skyrocketing.

Businesses must flex quickly to capture the opportunity, with systems prepared to withstand the increased loads, and digital channels and capabilities having appropriate scale and stability to handle the crush.

3. Reconfigure and extend
The closure of retail establishments and disruption of supply chains means the rules for merchandise and inventory have fundamentally shifted. Companies are now sitting on inventory in retail outlets that they need to figure out how to get online.

Businesses need to reconfigure products, services, merchandise, partnerships and ecosystems. Those that have historically invested in digital commerce sales tools will likely have an easier time adjusting to this new, digital-first economy.

Business as usual has been disrupted significantly—and in many cases, permanently. As organizations adapt, it’s vital to focus on trust, relevance and convenience.

Innovate every day and help businesses reimagine their future. Find your fit with Accenture.

 

Copyright © 2020 Accenture. All rights reserved. Accenture, its logo, and New Applied Now are trademarks of Accenture.

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